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Ombudsman declares vacant over 10 positions at MACRA

15 posts at the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority-MACRA have been nullified by Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, with immediate effect.

Among the 15 are that of former Director General Godfrey Itaye, some Directors and Managers who are believed to have been recruited without following proper public recruitment procedures.

The development follows a complaint which was lodged at the office of the Ombudsman on the 18th of August last year, alleging nepotism, tribalism and abuse of power in the recruitment of the Director General and some members of staff at the Communications Regulator.

Investigations into the matter have found that some of the officers in the affected posts were hired without proper qualifications, without interviews and through voucher adverts.

Godfrey Itaye’s contract nullification, is one of the recommendations contained in a report titled ‘secure in deception’ which is highlighting how some officers were illegally recruited at MACRA including the Director General himself.

According to Chizuma, Itaye’s appointments as Post Master General for the Malawi Posts Corporation-MPC and as Director General of MACRA were illegal, since he was handpicked by the president without going through the normal procedure.

According to the report, there was no vacancy advertisement for the post of DG and that Itaye did not even go through interviews, meaning that the while the board was used to rubber stamp his appointment by President Peter Mutharika.

The appointments were approved by the Secretary to Office of the President and Cabinet-OPC Lloyd Muhara which is against the appointment procedure at the institution.

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The report further describes Itaye’s redeployment from MACRA to MPC as well as his time as Chief Executive Officer for Lilongwe water Board LWB as act of maladministration.

In the same vein, the findings by the Ombudsman also faults the appointment of Henry Shamu as post Master General as well as his redeployment to MACRA as Director General.

The Ombudsman made reference to several legal sections to substantiate her points.

She cited Section 78 subsection 1 of the communications Act of 1998, which provides for the appointment of the Post Master General who shall be appointed by the Minister of information on recommendations from the board.

“Section 9 of the communications act 1998, also stipulates that the Minister shall appoint the Director General of the Authority on recommendations from the board. It is clear that the boards of the two institutions were not involved, therefore the posts are declared null and void,” said Chizuma.

The report is recommending that those who appointed Both Shamu and Itaye be responsible for their terminal benefits and not the government.

“Having considered all factors surrounding the issues I direct the board not to pay terminal benefits to Mr. Itaye if any under 2016 to 2019 contract. If such terminal benefits were paid, I order the board to claim the same from Mr. Itaye,” said Chizuma.

Apart from Itaye, others that have been affected by the Ombudsman’s decision include, Fearless Malulu, Timothy Sukali, Benson Tembo, Ruth Magwede Mdala, Charles Fodya, Kumbukani Lisilira, Henry Macheso Macdonald Phoya, Emmanuel Banda, Dan Datchi, Frank Mdala, Limbani Sekani, Vilanti Tambulasi, Tiyamike Zawanda and few others.

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Meanwhile, Board Chairperson for MACRA Stanley Chakhumbila Khaila, highlights that his board will meet as soon as possible to map the way forward in implementing the recommendations in the report.

Khaila who was present during the presentation of the report, has indicated that his board will move with speed to ensure that all recommendations are implemented b 1st July 2021.

“We will soon have a legal committee meeting, which will critically look at all the recommendations and on Wednesday the board will meet to deliberate on the same, so will do everything possible to work based on the timeline provided in the report,” said Khaila.

The office of the Ombudsman will release two more reports about Blantyre Water Board BWB and Tobacco Commission TC in the next 10 days.

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